The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into whether Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks secretly recorded two county officials on the periphery of a Flagler County Canvassing Board meeting last month. It is not an investigation.
But it is the first step toward one, should an investigation into potential law-breaking be warranted. The county administration said last week that it was considering pursuing the matter legally but had not yet decided. The county did not prompt FDLE’s inquiry, which is taking place on the heels of County Commission Chairman George Hanns’s withering criticism of Weeks’s methods and his raising questions about the integrity of the elections Weeks is supervising.
“FDLE he received a complaint and the newspaper report alleging that the canvassing board either held meetings that were not open to the public or the folks were recorded illegally,” Gretl Plessinger, an FDLE spokesperson, said today. “As we do anytime we get an allegation like this, we do an initial assessment or a review of the complaint. A couple of different things can happen to a review. If it looks like criminal activity may have occurred we would turn it into a full-fledged investigation and conduct an investigation. If not, if it looks like maybe it was an administrative issue and no laws were broken, then we would turn it back over to the complainant or the agency in charge for review.”
The issue revolves around a recording that Weeks herself revealed at a Canvassing Board meeting on Sept. 12. Weeks had made the recording of County Attorney Al Hadeed, the canvassing board attorney, and County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen, an alternate member of the canvassing board. That afternoon the canvassing board itself had adjourned to a different room in the offices of the supervisor of elections in Bunnell. It usually meets in the supervisor’s conference room. But when it opens absentee ballots, as was the case that day, it adjourns to an adjacent room’s conference table.
Hadeed remained in the initial conference room, unaware that Weeks was still recording the goings-on there. Ericksen approached him. The two had a conversation about a previous instance that Hadeed recalled, a matter involving an unnamed county commissioner who, during some absentee-ballot opening, had gone to make a phone call and returned. Hadeed had told him it could be perceived as an impropriety, and the commissioner complied. The incident took place more than six years ago, before Weeks became the supervisor. The substance of the recording is not at issue. Nor is it clear to this day why Weeks played it at the Sept. 12 meeting, in front of a largely partisan crowd of her supporters, other than in an attempt to embarrass Hadeed and possibly Ericksen.
But the fact of the recording being made in the first place is at issue. “The taping of the private conversation on August 25 and replaying it publicly by Weeks, and then subsequent distributing the private conversation, is not legal and is a clear violation of state law,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said in a statement released last week, and published here. “The taping occurred outside of the canvassing board meeting. According to Fla. Statute 934.03 it is a third degree felony to tape a private conversation without knowledge of both parties and it is also a third degree felony to distribute the recording to others.”
There is a gray area: the Canvassing Board meeting had adjourned to a different part of the building, but it had not adjourned altogether, and some people–not least, Hadeed and Ericksen–were still in the first conference room, though clearly the meeting was not taking place in that location.
WNZF reported on the recording last week after Weeks sent the recording to the radio station. The Palm Coast Observer then reported on the matter. According to Gretl, a News-Journal reporter subsequently inquired of the State Attorney’s office whether the matters at issue were illegal. The State Attorney’s office forwarded the inquiry, along with the Observer’s article, to the FDLE, which began its own inquiry. FDLE requested from WNZF the audio recording involving the conversation that Weeks recorded. The radio station provided that recording to the agency today.
The holding of meetings outside the Sunshine is a different and less tractable matter, and it’s not clear to what it relates precisely. The Canvassing Board itself has not held meetings outside the Sunshine. But Judge Melissa Moore-Stens, who chairs the board, was livid in late August when Weeks took it upon herself to counter a direction by the Canvassing Board–outside of a public meeting, and without the two other board members’ knowledge.
School Board member Trevor Tucker beat challenger Michael McElroy by 58 votes in the election. The margin, when provisional ballots were taken into account, made the race eligible for a recount. The Board agreed to invite McElroy and discuss the matter with him in person at a Canvassing Board meeting. McElroy agreed. But after the meeting adjourned, Weeks spoke to McElroy by phone. The upshot was that McElroy had agreed not to pursue the recount. The fact that Weeks pursued the matter outside the purview of the board did not sit well with the other board members, and may have amounted to an action that was before the board, but that was carried out outside it, thereby raising the matter of sunshine.
Carol Mikola says
Why is it that the Ronald Reagan “Republicans” consistently support this woman? This is a question that voters in the county in the November election need to ask themselves. Are the Ronald Reagan “Republican” candidates the kind of people that you want to see elected? Do Dennis McDonald and Mark Richter, losing candidates in the primary, seem like the kind of people you can trust? If the answer to both questions is NO, then VOTE FOR BILL LEWIS and HEIDI SHIPLEY for Palm Coast City Council and VOTE FOR JOHN FISCHER for school board. These 3 candidates were endorsed by the Palm Coast Observer.
Governor Scott, please remove this petty tyrant from her duties here in Flagler County. Please spare the citizens two more years of her efforts on our behalf.
This is long overdue. Ms. Weeks’ conduct during her time in OUR Elections Office has been far less than stellar with her integrity being in question for a great many things. This is another case of she has been using that elected position for everything other than serving the voters of this community. NO Elections Supervisor should not only never engage in knowingly breaking the law, but NO Elections Supervisor should ever be conspiring with a citizen and/or fringe political group for the purposes of playing out personal vendettas which is the case of sharing the recording with Mr. McDonald who’s integrity is also very much in question.
We should be able to trust our Elections Supervisor. We had wrong ballots handed out this past primary vote and have yet to hear what has been done to correct that issue from Ms. Weeks. In fact, she has simply dismissed that huge issue wanting to focus on personal battles she has concocted and obviously in partnership with local political fanatics and/or fringe political groups. Shameful. Enough is enough and she needs to go.
Seems to me correspondence to that office from the core members of the RRRAFL, and their spouses, along with correspondence from the office to that same group, should also be obtained and reviewed during any investigative process. The use of her phone to record those meetings was planned.
We are not Ronald Regan Republicans supporting SOE Weeks, to the contrary we are different parties voters defending our rights against voters suppression and manipulation of our elections process by trying to witch hunt and undermine, control and micromanage our SOE against her, while she is trying to prevent fraudulent elections.
I am curious if you could clarify a few of your statements regarding your support of Ms. Weeks?
1. What exactly do you see her doing to guard against “voters suppression”? All of her recent actions and refusal to work in a cooperative manner actually put Palm Coast voters in jeopardy of losing an additional Early Voting location at the Community Center after finally just getting that location.
2 How do you see Ms. Weeks defending against the “manipulation of our elections” when several incorrect ballots were found to have been handed to voters yet Ms. Weeks has taken no action and has actually been dismissive of the incidents?
3. I am not clear on what you mean by micromanage? It’s been used on several occasions by her supporters. Do you believe we should not question Ms. Weeks or any Supervisor of Elections? Isn’t that dangerous? By that same token, do you then believe that no elected official should be questioned and allowed to act without any accountability?
4. What specific measures do you see Ms. Weeks taking lately and in any of this incident that would help “to prevent fraudulent elections”? Is calling a candidate personally, who is entitled to a recount, to apparently talk him out of it a “prevention of fraudulent elections”? Is conspiring in secret with fringe political groups and individuals for the purposes of attacking other local officials a “prevention of fraudulent elections”?
5. Do you think that our Supervisor of Elections position (regardless of Ms. Weeks was in the position or not) is above the law?
Newspaper and media endorsements don’t mean diddly squat, it’s only their opinion and a way of trying to sway votes and it’s too bad that a lot of people fall for that.
I will never knowingly vote for an RR candidate or a RR incumbent. I won’t surprise me at all to see more and more candidates running as NPA in the future and I think that’s a good thing.
The big question is why did Mrs. Weeks phone Mr. McElroy about the recount? If the board decided to invite him to a meeting to discuss the matter what was the need for the phone call? Was there something to hide?
School Board races seem to attract low voter turn out. I’m sure conducting a recount would be finished in a very timely manner..
WELCOME TO FLAGLER COUNTY, HOME OF THE BRAVE & DO WHAT THEY TELL YOU TO DO OR BE “GONE” !!! WE AGREE WILL, TIME FOR GOV. SCOTT TO STEP UP & REMOVE MISS WEEKS FASTER THAN GOV.Bob Graham REMOVED SHERIFF Dan Bennett Back in 1983 !!!!!!!
All phone records as well as email account communications from the SOE records (official & personal) should be subpoenaed.
Weeks operates just inside the law and know how to do it. It won’t surprise me if she gets away with this also. It’s all a joke that she is enjoying.